You will have significant experiences.
I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of
them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh
your memory of these meaningful and significant things.
Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you.
Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some
may build upon another until they represent a lifetime of
special experiences.
- Gordon B Hinckley

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Growing Up and Moving On...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

It feels like ages since I’ve updated you all on Everett.  And, I suppose, that’s actually a good sign…no news is good news, right?  Right!  So then, what is new with Everett?  Well, he’s all healed up after his latest surgery and is completely back to his old self, plus some new tricks.  His incisions have come together nicely and shouldn’t leave hardly a scar.  He really wasn’t down long at all, maybe ten days total, after the surgery.  And one huge benefit of having the hernia repair…it got him to crawl on all fours.  A side effect of him not wanting to drag his sore belly on the floor, Everett started crawling on hands and knees about six days after the surgery.  Now we can always hear him coming down the hall as he likes to slap his hands on the floor and his adorable little bottom wiggles as he moves.  He crawls like a bulldog, all shoulders with a look of determination on his face…I just LOVE it!  He’s also pulling up to standing on everything and everyone…including Jack (the dog).  And just a few days ago I saw him stand up by himself (of course he fell as soon as I started squealing with amazement), so now walking is on the horizon.  Hooray!!!

Everett’s only real setback following the surgery was some swallowing issues.  You may recall from the update I sent right after his surgery that he’d thrown up on the drive home from CHLA.  Well, that phenomenon continued for about four weeks in total.  It began as just more frequent spitting up and then progressed into full-force projectile vomiting with every meal.  I rushed Everett to his pediatrician about a week after his surgery, convinced that the intubation had done some permanent damage to his throat, but our doctor said this was Everett’s way of reacting to the surgery.  This was his form of regression.  He said to keep trying and work through it. 

In the midst of trying to “work through it,” Everett came down with a bad cold.  We ended up rushing him back to the pediatrician again where he was diagnosed with RSV.  For any preemie parent, those three letters carry HUGE red flags and are cause for pushing the panic button.  From day one in the NICU, we were told to be very leery of RSV exposure as it can be fatal to former preemies.  Last RSV season, Everett received vaccines to protect against the virus.  This year, due to insurance policy protocols, he didn’t qualify…each vaccine costs $2,000!  Needless to say, I had a freak out moment when the pediatrician said RSV.  But he assured us that Everett was old enough and healthy enough to recover without needing to be placed in the hospital.  For a week straight, we saw the doctor every other day.  Everett’s vomiting continued and he had two two-day stretches of keeping nothing (not food or formula) down.  He lost an entire pound.  He spiked high fevers, had a runny nose, and bad cough.  But, we stayed out of the hospital!!!  He’s recovered now.  He gained back all the weight he lost plus some more.  Zac and I are counting our blessing that this was Everett’s first real illness since he’s been home.  Sure, we’ve had the occasional stuffy nose, but never the high fevers, throwing up, hacking cough, sleep on the floor of his room type illness.  And with him being home for 11 months now, I think that’s pretty darn good!  I must give credit for Everett’s health to his caregivers who watch him regularly; Haley (who I babysat growing up), Sheri (friend of the family), my sisters-in-law, Monica and Alyssa and Sarah (friend from nursing school).  These women have been so dedicated to watching Everett not only on the days that I need to sleep after work, but also when I need some “alone time” too.  They have allowed us to keep Everett out of daycare and therefore, have helped keep him healthy for these 11 months.  We are SO thankful and blessed to have each of them in our lives and Everett just adores them all!!!  Thank you ladies!!!

As for Everett’s swallowing, which even after the RSV, I still felt was an area of concern; our pediatrician told me that I just wasn’t feeding Everett tasty enough food for him to want to swallow.  I’d never heard of such a thing and I really questioned if he knew what he was talking about (my apologies, as I know his wife will be reading this).  BUT, much to my surprise, I made Everett chicken strips covered in salsa, and guess what…the kid chewed and swallowed every last bite!  Everett doesn’t have swallowing issues…he’s just a picky eater.  With that in mind, he’s now eating chicken, beans, rice, eggs, pancakes, waffles, pasta, cottage cheese, string cheese, chocolate pudding, French fries, and crackers.  He’s also starting to master the sippy cup!  He eats three solid meals a day with three whole milk bottles in between plus snacks here and there.  He’s got some catching up to do with the fine motor skills with his hands, as he doesn’t pincher grasp (bringing his thumb and pointer finger together) or point, but this is because we had to delay solid food due to his gagging and choking.  We are working hard with his therapists and I’m sure he will get these new skills down soon.  As for the rest of him, he’s saying “Mama,” “Dada, “Hi,” “Hey,” “Yeah” and the occasional imitated word here and there.  I could swear he even said Jack the other day, but I haven’t heard it since.  He cut five new teeth last week, is still taking two naps a day (thank goodness), and can destroy our living room in 30 seconds flat.  Watching him grow is bittersweet.  I love seeing all the new things he can do, but gosh, I miss that true baby phase.  I can see why couples end up trying to get pregnant again around this time…’cause really your baby has become a toddler.  NOT that Zac and I are thinking of going down that road ANY time soon :-)  We are just enjoying our little miracle and that makes life interesting enough. 

And speaking of miracles, I think Everett’s reached the stage where strangers notice how small he is once they hear his age.  The conversation usually goes something like this, “How old is your baby?” “Sixteen months.” “Oh…(long pause as they size him up)…he’s so petite (or some word to that effect)” And from there they usually question if he’s walking, talking etc, which usually begs the question of why he isn’t doing any of those things.  The interesting part of this is that I think I’ve healed enough now that I don’t always tell the story of Everett’s birth or what has made Everett who he is.  I’ve come to realize that that is Everett’s past, and while it is a part of who he is, it does not define who he is.  As a family, we are always going to be challenged to not treat Everett like he is still sick.  My tendencies are still conservative…we already got our miracle and I don’t want to mess it up.  I definitely coddle him more that most moms, I am reluctant to push him too far, and the thought of public germs still scares me to my core.  But I know that this practice has to end and that Everett needs to grow up understanding that he is healthy.  I’m trying to train my mind too to understand that he is a well child.  Thankfully, I have the help of his therapists (who make him play in dirt), friends (who tell me to lighten up), and family (who tell me when I’m overreacting) to keep me in line.  As a family, we appreciate each of Everett’s little accomplishments.  Simple things like climbing on the couch, taking his pacifier in and out of his mouth, giggles and smiles are all HUGE milestones for us.  We appreciate them a little bit more than most.  And in this we’ve found that Everett’s growing up gets to take a little longer…which is no complaint for us.  But for the most part, we are making a concerted effort to treat Everett like any other child. 

I never thought I’d get to the day when I wasn’t explaining Everett to total strangers…but here I am.  And while I’m sure some of you might think, “She’s still healing from this experience?  Her son is well…so what’s she still griping about?”  If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that the wounds Zac and I carry run deep.  And while they are healing, I don’t think they’re really ever going to close.  We are not the same people we once were (probably true of any first-time parent), we’ve weathered the worst storm of our lives at only 29 years old, we aren’t naïve to the realities of life anymore.  Growing up is hard…and painful at times…and Zac and I grew up exponentially in the past 16 months.  But ask me if I would have it any other way…for Everett’s sake…perhaps.  But for the wonderful benefits and gifts it has brought to Zac and I…never. 

I will close with saying that March 16, 2011 will mark Everett’s first year home.  For Zac and I, we look on this date more as Everett’s birthday, than the actual date he came into the world.  Zac even asked if we could legally change his birth date to March (you can’t, by the way).  So you can understand our anticipation and excitement to mark this HUGE occasion of 365 days at home :-)

With Love,

The Bollinger Family

P.S. Pictures attached, as always

No comments:

Post a Comment